13 June, 2006

Bore Draw: France 0 Switzerland 0

France have a lot to do if they are to make up for their performance in 2002, when they exited the World Cup at the group stages having failed to score a single goal. It was doubly embarrassing that they were the reigning World and European Champions at the time.

Prior to this tournament they have not been highly rated, and there is a sense that their days as a major football power are, for the time being, over. This will be a last hurrah for many of the remaining heroes from 1998 and 2000, including the talismanic Zinedine Zidane.

The France team is still full of star names, however, many of them well known to followers of the English Premiership. The Swiss squad are less familiar, and perhaps most notable for including the first pair of twins to appear in the World Cup finals.

France quickly take control of the match, pushing Switzerland back into their own half, but after 23 minutes it is the Swiss who have the best chance of the game so far when a free kick is launched into the box. Barthez is beaten but the post comes to the rescue and the French are able to clear the danger.

Switzerland are lifted and start to see more of the ball for the next few minutes, but France remain on top. Thierry Henry forces a save from Pascal Zuberbuehler and is denied a penalty when another shot strikes a defender's hand. A minute later he is at the heart of another attack but hits a wasteful shot instead of passing to Vieira in front of the goal. Switzerland breathe a sigh of relief when the half time whistle ends a spell of sustained pressure, but they have not been genuinely threatened.

When they return to the field they look more determined to test the French defence. Barthez has to make two good saves to stop his team going behind. France rarely manage to get the ball into danger areas and Zidane is visibly frustrated, berating his team-mates when there is a break in play.

Neither his words nor the introduction of Louis Saha are able to inspire the French team. For the last 20 minutes they have most of the possession but are lacklustre and indecisive. The game fizzles out and when the final whistle is blown there is little to commend either the match or the protagonists.


Joe Williams said...

Pascal Zuberbuehler has to be another contender for best name.

Baz said...

Pimpong and Zuberbuehler are way out in front


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